Several years ago, we inherited a beautiful sukkah from our good friends Cantor Arianne Brown and Rabbi Randall Brown. Next, we shared the sukkah with our dear colleague and neighbors Jessie Fruithandler and Rabbi Jason Fruithandler. Over the course of many years, the sukkah inhabited new members of our family, congregants, students from Sinai Akiba Academy and Sinai Temple Religious School, staff members, children, and adults alike. Our traditions expanded to include pumpkin pie at Sukkot dinner, serve apple cider, hang orange twinkle lights, and use funky outdoor rugs to brighten up the sukkah floor.
This year, we finally decided to expand the sukkah, change up the canvas to bright red and orange sheets, add some lanterns and lengthen the walls to include some extra space for a few socially distanced family meals. Erez and I can’t believe it is the same sukkah. Same sturdy poles and reliable exterior. A consistent frame able to adapt to through the fluidity of time.
It is the first time I have seen the sukkah as a metaphor for personal growth. Many of us believe we are unable to change, stuck with the same habits, mindset, misgivings, and faults. And yet, perhaps we are too hard on ourselves. Instead of expecting full metamorphosis, let us be guided by small steps. A different ritual, new meal, altered routine or additional custom adds up over time. Years later, the person staring back may physically look familiar and yet, growth of soul and expansion of heart may completely change one’s appearance.
Coming off of Yom Kippur, the “teshuvah” talk isn’t quite done. Now we find our way in journeying towards a better version of ourselves. Not a total transformation, but a necessary adaption.
The sukkah back then was very special. Incredible memories with the best of friends. It held the visions of young adults wondering if their future children would one day, sit at the table and look up at the stars.
This sukkah was designed by our children, a fulfillment of a dream.
May this Sukkot be filled with small steps and impactful changes, holding close who you are today and inching towards who you need to be.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach